The impacts of climate change are more evident everywhere. Rural people who depend on climate-sensitive resources (e.g. water supplies, farming land) are among the more vulnerable population affected by climate events such as heat waves, heavy precipitation, long droughts and intense hurricanes which have been more frequent around the world. Polycentric governance is a form of decision-making that involves multiple levels of authority and multiple sectors representatives under a shared system of rules to regulate their relationships. In the first decade of the 21st century, Elinor Ostrom proposed Polycentric Governance as an effective approach to address global environmental problems such as climate change. Globally and in Canada, current climate change mitigation and adaptation policies are polycentric because they include different levels (local, regional, national, international) and different sectors (public and private sector, NGOs, indigenous people). Polycentric Governance has the potential to facilitate tasks such as information sharing, knowledge exchange/learning, financial coordination, conflict resolution and creation of trust. Polycentric governance does not automatically translate into positive impacts in achieving climate change mitigation goals. Efforts to create functional institutional arrangements might exceed the actual implementation of strategies and action plans. When adopting a polycentric approach in climate change policy, some recommendation are: Developing adequate information sharing tools and a clear message, promoting capacity development for local actors, building in past experiences by exchanging best practices, creating internal rules to solve potential conflict, promoting transparency in decision-making and implementation.
Lissel Hernandez-Gongora is a Rural Studies PhD candidate in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph. Her research interest is in governance in the forest sector and its contributions to community development and climate change mitigation. She worked for five years as an official of the state government in Quintana Roo, Mexico where she developed rural policy and managed programs for sustainable use of natural resources and capacity development. She contributed to the readiness process of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in Quintana Roo. Lissel has additional work experience as a municipal government officer, consultant and professor at a college level. She has a Master in Planning and Regional Development from the Instituto Tecnologico de Merida (Mexico).